One day about ten years ago, when I lived on Coronado Island in San Diego, I was driving around town…running errands and taking care of the daily business of living, and, like I always do whilst in the car, I was listening to public radio. As I was sitting there in traffic, annoyed and rushed, an interview with a player for the San Diego Chargers came on. Sports, I thought. UGH.

However, as I listened, I realized that this young man — whose now unfortunately forgotten name I have attempted to find dozens of times since then, but to no avail — was talking about a program that he had started to help feed hungry kids. As I listened, I realized that instead of spending all of his newfound money on fast cars and hot women, like SO many of his teammates were doing…he was using it to fund a local food bank that he had established.

In the most humble, beautiful, and generous way, this young man explained that he himself had grown up very poor — and, consequently knew what it felt like as a child to go to both school and bed…hungry.

And, then he said something that I never forgot. He said, “I know I can’t change the whole world — that I can’t save the whole world. But, having known the burn and humiliation of hunger as a child…I know that just a single sandwich or a single banana can mean EVERYTHING to a hungry kid…to both their body AND their soul. I certainly know what it meant to ME. And, so, that’s what I am doing — feeding their body and their soul…a single sandwich or a single banana at a time.”

His humble, beautiful, generous words have never left me.

His humble, beautiful, generous words CHANGED ME.

And, trust me…I know that it is all so overwhelming. I know that it’s easier to just throw up your hands and say, “It’s ALL too much. What difference can I make?”

But, I would like to suggest to you what helped me overcome my own overwhelm when faced with what seems to be an insurmountable problem of where to even BEGIN. It really is very simple. This is where I started:

Be who and what YOU needed when you were younger.

Each one of us has the power to make a profound difference in the world — in whatever way is important or meaningful to us — a single sandwich, a single banana, or even…a single starfish at a time.

“A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore.

Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea.

“It made a difference to that one.”’


About muffybolding

Muffy Bolding is a mother/writer/actor/knitter/feminist/withered debutante who likes the smell of asparagus pee, and remains obsessed with the bathroom hygiene of her three children -- despite the fact that they are 23, 19, and 16. She is blissfully married to a cute Jewish boy who looks like Willie Wonka, but remains tragically in love with the dead poet, Ted Hughes. She has the mouth of a Teamster, and her patron saint is Rocco (pestilence relief.) Ms. Bolding lives in Southern California, where she enjoys typing words, making movies, and plucking the rings from the fingers of the dead. She was the co-creator and Editor-in-Chief of the award winning satire zine, Fresno Lampoon, and in between writing screenplays, carnival barking, and savagely threatening her trio of darling larvae with a wooden spoon, she currently publishes the zine, "Withered Debutante." More of her work can also be found in the anthology, "Mamaphonic: Balancing Motherhood and Other Creative Acts", the compilation zine, "Mamaphiles III: Coming Home", as well as in The Cortland Review and She is currently writing and producing for film and television, and working on a book of essays entitled, "Inside A Chinese Dragon." She has slept around, but not nearly as much as she would have liked.
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1 Response to one

  1. Thank you – that was brilliant. And sorta exactly why I am a Middle School teacher librarian.

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